This is one of a series of questions centered around how an isolated group of people would survive. Each question focuses on a single aspect of survival. Details about the peoples' situation are below:
In a novel I am developing, roughly 500 people are living on a peninsula. The isthmus connecting the peninsula to the mainland is very narrow, and spanned by a wall, which prevents the people from leaving (there are deterrents preventing them from climbing the wall or otherwise circumventing it). They also cannot swim around the wall. This also means that no land-based animals can cross onto the peninsual from the mainland. The inhabitants have to live with what they have. For the sake of details, assume the peninusla is roughly the size, shape, and location of Mahia Peninsula.
This particular question deals with armor. The people on the peninsula are all in one village, so there are no wars, battles, or the like. Nothing larger than the occasional brawl. However, the inhabitants do need at least three suits of some type of armor. This armor will be used in a 1v1 battle against a strong opponent with a heavy metal sword, similar in construction to this. The armor needs to be light enough to allow the user to move fairly quickly, while still being as strong as possible. The user of this armor is also using an identical sword to the one mentioned above.
Given the resources present, what is the best armor that could be made to fit these needs?
- No metal. Aside from the previously mentioned sword (which should not be considered in the list of resources), these people have no access to metal.
- Hides from Sea Creatures. There are not many land-based animals on the peninsula, certainly no large ones. There are plenty of sea creatures such as seals however, which could provide hides for leather.
- Plant life. Probably not the best bet for armor, but an abundance of plant life is available if needed, including pines (largely cedars), bushes, and vines.
- Stones. Rock is readily available, as is flint. Not ideal for armor obviously, but could be useful as tools to help create the armor.
It should be noted that the technology level of these people is basically bronze age minus the bronze. Without access to metal, they can get only so far.
My first thought was leather armors. I had some doubts about the existence of such armor though, so I did some research. It looks like leather might have been used mainly as support and backing for metal armors. There were no full suits of purely leather armor. That being said, it does seem that leather armor would provide at least some protection, though not against any sharp point. I found a great article explaining the uses of leather armor.
That being said, is there a better alternative that my people would have access to? Remember that speed is the priority.